You might remember a few weeks ago, I asked you to submit questions you’d like addressed in bulletin columns. These are the first two:
Are we having mass on Christmas evening to fulfill your Sunday Obligation?
Since Christmas is the second-most important holiday in the Catholic Calendar, we are unable to celebrate a Sunday vigil mass on Christmas Day. So, both Duncan and Buffalo Center masses will be cancelled that weekend and I ask those people to go to a neighboring parish on Sunday for Mass. I apologize for the inconvenience.
Does SCAP fulfill your Sunday Obligation?
For those of you who do not know what the acronym SCAP means; Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest. This celebration takes place on a Sunday when a priest cannot get to a given church to celebrate mass. It’s among a list of liturgical celebrations that are what I call “oops!” celebrations (ex. general absolution, confirmation by the parish priest, and lay baptism in an emergency situation). In these situations, the church provides for times in which the norm is impossible.
To fulfill your Sunday Obligation, a catholic is obliged to participate in mass on either Saturday evening or Sunday. Mass is the only liturgy that can fulfill your Sunday Obligation. It says in paragraph 12 of the Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest
The following are the principal requisites for the Sunday assembly of the faithful.
1. the gathering of the faithful to manifest the Church, not simply on their own initiative but as called together by God, that is, as the people of God in their organic structure, presided over by a priest, who acts in the person of Christ;
2. their instruction in the paschal mystery through the Scriptures that are proclaimed and that are explained by a priest or deacon;
3. the celebration of the eucharistic sacrifice, by which the paschal mystery is expressed, and which is carried out by the priest in the person of Christ and offered in the name of the entire Christian people.
We have the very interesting situation here in this pastorate of a scheduled SCAP on the first Saturday Night of each month in Buffalo Center. This is done with the permission of Archbishop Hanus because it is impossible to have mass there that weekend. Some of the people, having read this question, may well wonder if they should attend SCAP or drive to another parish. I want to emphasize that you should all continue attending SCAP when it is offered. If the Archbishop or I expected you to drive elsewhere that weekend, we would simply ask Deacon Popowski or Jody Smith not to offer SCAP. The fact that it is offered indicates that we expect you will it.
One way to look at is is that, by attending SCAP, you have done all you can do to fulfill your Sunday Obligation. The fault does not lie with you. You have done two of the three components listed above. You have gathered as a community in Christ and have heard the Word of God. The parts that are missing are that the priest can't preside over the assembly or offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice. But you cannot control that.
One of the things that has impressed several of the priests in the past few years as well as our Episcopal Vicar, Msgr. Wilgenbusch, is that the SCAP is as well attended as the Sunday Mass in Bufffalo Center. This speaks to the need for it as well as the vibrant sustainability of your parish. As we go foarward, it is possible that we will need to offer SCAP in more parishes on a more consistent basis. I will look toward you, the people of St. Patrick's, to assuage any fears associated with SCAP and to speak to the positive effect is has had in your life and the life of your parish.
On a related note, in the 80’s and 90’s, there arose a practice on weekdays when a priest could not celebrate a daily mass for a lay person or a sister to celebrate a Word and Communion service. Both the Vatican and Archbishop Hanus have recently asked that we discontinue these. There is no obligation to attend mass on weekdays and, quite often, these services promoted scandal within the church as the preacher may be untrained in theology or may have a theological “axe” to grind. The one possible exception to this rule is distributing communion to the sick in a nursing home or hospital, if the pastor gives his approval.